There may not seem to be much activity at the site where a highway access from Scott City to Interstate 55 is under construction, but work is being done around the clock.
Gravity is working at the site.
Workers piled extra material on top of the fill dirt under the future site of the bridge at the Ramsey Creek Corridor to compact the material. The process is intended to squeeze water and air out of the material and speed up the settling process, said Missouri Department of Transportation area engineer David Wyman.
Congestion problems at the intersection of Main Street, U.S. 61 and I-55 date back to the 1970s. The road extension will give Scott City drivers alternate access to I-55 north from Mulberry Street to Route AB, on the eastern side of the interstate.
Crews broke ground on the project in autumn 2010 and anticipated having it done by July this year, but the project has been delayed by moisture and organic materials in the ground, Wyman said.
Wyman expects the project to be completed by the end of the year. But first, the settling has to stop. Wyman said MoDOT will not hold the contractor to a completion date if there are circumstances beyond its control, like the heavy rains and flooding in 2011 that also pushed the project back.
"It's going to get done. We're confident we'll get it all accomplished," Wyman said.
Scott City administrator Ron Eskew said the project appeared to come to a standstill about a month ago. He said MoDOT is monitoring conditions at the site and was unable to give him a specific timeline for completion.
Every case is different, MoDOT project engineer Eric Krapf said.
In the Ramsey Creek Corridor, once commonly referred to as the Ramsey Creek Bridge, much of the settling is occurring well below the fill brought into the site, Krapf said.
MoDOT goes to the site every week to take readings on how much the fill has settled and how much moisture is in the ground. In some places, the land has settled more than a foot, Krapf said. The site looks like it has four mailboxes scattered on it, but those boxes are filled with devices that measure pressure under the soil. The boxes are attached to settlement plates under the fill. When the plates move, the boxes move.
Recent readings indicate that settling is slowing, Krapf said.
"Hopefully this summer things will begin to stabilize," he said. "We need to get the ground to quit moving so we can get out there and get that bridge built."
Two foundations for the bridge spans called "bents" have been built. Two more on the ends of the bridge are yet to be constructed. Once the end bents are in place, construction crews can set girders and pour the deck on the bridge, Krapf said.
Scott City, MO